First impressions of the LA release

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The following was posted in the Fidonet OS/2 echo conference by Jim Gilliland on 12/30/91:

Here's a description of the new build written by Jeff Cohen (the author of the "unofficial guide to the WPS"):


First impressions of the LA release.

The LA release looks very good! There are still a few trouble spots, but on the whole it's a LOT better than 6.167.

Workplace Shell

Performance has been significantly improved, although frequent OS2.INI accesses continue to be a performance sore point.

Window frame structure has changed slightly. The mini-icon in the title bar and the system menu button have been merged. The mini-icon is now the button. Also, custom bitmaps are used, instead of the shrunken icons used by 6.167. Looks much better.

Context menus and notebooks of WPS objects have been rationalized. They're more consistent now. Also, context menus for open objects include system menu operations. Non-WPS objects still have the same old system menu.

Details view now works. Very nice.

Tree view now sees subdirectories the first time, eliminating a large nuisance.

In all views, selecting mini-icons and invisible icons options works as expected.

Include notebook setting has been overhauled and now works. Find now runs a LOT faster.

Virtually all of the major problems I reported in my WPS guide appear to have been fixed.

Notebooks now come up decently sized.

Some icons have been reworked for whatever reason.

Scheme objects are new. A scheme is a set of font and color attributes for all the components of a window. By dragging a scheme onto a window, you can changed all of its appearance in one stroke. It basically replaces the old Control Panel's ability to customize the desktop appearance, but goes one better: every window can have its own unique appearance.

Performing an "arrange" on the desktop will cause the icons to line up across the top of the screen instead of the bottom. I have no idea why they changed this.

DOS and Windows support

DOS boxes can now be terminated from the Windows List.

Windows support now includes a large variety of video drivers, including 8514/A and XGA.

Windows printer drivers are automatically installed alongside the OS/2 printer drivers. A separate installation is no longer necessary.

Miscellaneous

The Tutorial is substantially improved. Give it a try.

Help panels and the VIEW command now have push buttons on the bottom of the window allowing you to sequentially step through a help file or book (and it's about time!).

OS/2 1.x Codeview support is now present, but it's flakey; you can't rely on it.

Migration of DOS and Windows apps now works. You can run it during installation or any time afterwards. "Migration" means searching your partitions for "recognized" applications, and creating a program reference for them (with the appropriate DOS settings).

I installed HPFS, and did not encounter any obvious problems (so far).

2.0 SDK

The toolkit for 6.167 does not really work on 6.177. A few PM interfaces have been changed. 32-bit 6.167 PM apps may or may not work on 6.177. WorkFrame/2 appears to work. IPMD does not. The dialog editor can't even begin execution. ICC appears to work. Bottom line: if you're not working on PM apps and can live without a debugger, you can use the 6.167 toolkit on 6.177 (maybe).

When will there be a SDK for 6.177? Best not to hold your breath. If 6.149 and 6.167 are any guides, it might be 4 to 8 weeks before they're available.

The Resource Compiler, RC.EXE, is now part of the base operating system and lives in \OS2.

Installation advice

There are a few periods where the installation grinds to a crawl that can last up to 15 minutes. They appear to be the result of mucking around with OS2.INI too much. You must be patient.

Also, I recommend doing a shutdown immediately after installation completes. The first shutdown will also be very lengthy. Changes made before the first shutdown might not be saved. I managed to lose the System Clock. Alas, CLASSBRW is no longer present. But I believe I can recreate the clock using REXX. If I can, I'll post the program here.

Conclusion

The Workplace Shell remains the weakest part of the system, but it's in vastly better shape nonetheless. It's far stabler and quicker, and most of the unimplemented features are unimplemented no longer. However, memory usage appears similar to 6.167.